Masters Men

Traumatic Injury Life Saving Tips

March 8th, 2019 by Marie Dershem

Written by Dawn Hinz

Sadly it seems there are more car versus cyclist accidents. In 2006, 772 people were fatally injured in cycling accidents. Where as in 2016, that number was up to 840; including 5 local cyclists. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)

We do everything we can as a cyclist to minimize the danger. We wear bright clothes, our bikes look like Christmas trees and most importantly, we follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee that we aren’t seriously injured. What should you do if tragedy strikes you or your group?

  • Everyone should carry a cell phone on their body. I do not agree with keeping your phone in a bag on your bike. If you are thrown from your bike you may not be able to reach your phone.
  • KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. You should know your route and where you are along that route. This way when you call 911, emergency personnel can find you as quickly as possible, when every minute counts. Go one step further and set up an activity tracker that relays your location to a reliable person who is not a part of the ride. This way they get a notification if you stop moving and can call for help.
  • Know how many people are in your group. 911 will need to know how many patients need an ambulance. Then, go help your friends. You should know any help you render will be covered under Michigan’s Good Samaritan Act (MCL 691.1501). This law basically states that a volunteer trying to help someone cannot be held liable if those actions cause further injury; excepting gross negligence.
  • Do not move someone unless the location causes further danger or harm. I.e. Perhaps you need to slide someone off the road if traffic is not slowing down or giving you space.
  • Do not unnecessarily adjust the patient’s head. If you hear snoring, gurgling or no breaths then gently place the head in a “sniffing” position.
  • If you see blood, control the bleeding with direct and continuous pressure. Put your hand or hands over the wound and keep pressure on the wound until help arrives. Every red blood cell counts.
  • If it is cold or even slightly chilly outside keep the patient warm if possible. Hypothermia causes shivering which wastes precious ATP. Even slight hypothermia will worsen a trauma patient’s outcome. Give them your jacket or get blankets from bystanders.

With these actions you have given your friends a fighting chance in the Emergency Room. If you would like to take it one step further then it is time to find a First Aid and CPR class. Stay safe out there.


What is the deal with “Cross”?

November 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

What’s the deal with “Cross”?

If you haven’t experienced cyclocross firsthand, you may be wondering why anyone would want to participate in such an event. If you aren’t familiar with cyclocross, imagine riding your bike as fast as you can, but throwing in every type of element that would make it more difficult to do so – grass, sand, mud, stairs, even barriers (think short hurdles). OK, this may sound a little crazy, but it’s also one of the fastest growing crazes in cycling.

 

 

 

 

So what is cyclocross (a.k.a. CX)?

Cyclocross was created Belgium as a fun way to keep cyclists riding in the winter months. Today’s cyclocross events are timed events, typically between 30-60 minutes that take place on relatively short (1-2 mile) circuits, most often in parks. The circuits typically contain a mix of grass, gravel, mud, sand, and pavement with some features that require riders to dismount and run with their bikes for a short period of time. Those who are serious CXers are riding cyclocross specific bikes, spending time dialing in their tire pressure for the conditions and look smooth and efficient getting on and off their bikes. For most of us, however, CX offers one of the easiest and most laid-back environments to try a bike race. In most CX races, competitors can (and do) use either a cyclocross specific bike or a mountain bike. Races are categorized (USAC Cat 1-5 or Beginner/Sport/Expert). Beginner races last only 30-minutes and tend to be much more laid back than their road race cousins. Because of their history as a fun way to spend the winter, cyclocross races often include competitors wearing costumes and a fair share of heckling on the course.

In other bike racing events, riders have to fight hard to “stay with the group” to take advantage of the drafting advantages. In Cyclocross, racers are riding against the course almost as much as they are against their competitors. Most races are spread out within the first lap with riders going their own pace as they take on the challenge of riding the features on the course. Also, because of the nature of the courses, CX races involved multiple laps and are well-suited to spectators as racers can be viewed multiple times throughout the race (and since they are often in parks, often have playgrounds for really young spectators to enjoy).

If you’ve wondered what this cyclocross this is all about, find a local race and come check it out. They’re fun to watch, but even more fun to ride. Whether you want to heckle or pedal, it’s hard to beat cyclocross for some fun this fall. Here are some links to the local Cyclocross series in Michigan:

 

 


The “Professional” Athlete

April 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

One definition offered by the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word professional as “characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession”. Further, it defines a profession as “a principal calling, vocation, or employment”, another way of saying a profession is a job. Seriousness of conduct is at a higher level then what one would approach with a hobby. Though we don’t race for a living, everyone on a team benefits from professionalism. Here are a few ways to be “professional” and how it positively impacts yourself and the team?

 

 

Sharp Dressed (Wo)man

Nothing says “conforming to the technical” like a group that looks the same. More than matching jerseys and bibs, a truly professional look includes socks, helmets, accessory equipment (glasses, gloves, shoe covers, bikes, etc.) and even cool weather wear. It’s imperative riders maintain a clean bike and kit. Team Athletic Mentors’ management puts a lot of attention and effort towards projecting a brand and we all have a role in that.

Take Pride in Your Team

A professionally run team establishes a vision and follows it. TAM has looked to develop riders. Some have gone on to higher ranks, like the ProTour, and even become nationa

l champions. As a member of the team, you are part of that legacy. When other riders see you, they see a team with high standards and a history of success. You have been chosen to continue an image, so take pride. This pride is not just racing or riding in your kit, but wearing the team casual wear during cycling and promotional events.

Team Mates and Sponsors First

Being professional means holding up your end of a bargain. Part of this is supporting the sponsors that provide resources to the team. Take every opportunity to promote sponsors’ products, keeping negative assessments within the team. Following through on your contractual agreements maintains the team’s ability to keep and hold sponsors. Think of your actions as reflecting those on your jersey and in your jersey.

Be an Ambassador

True professionals take responsibility to foster their livelihood. At our level, that means promoting the sport we love. Be approachable by strangers. Look to help more novice racers. Get in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t genetic freaks destine for greatness in cycling, but, rather, people passionate about a sport. Project that passion by supporting it any positive way so people see it means something to someone. People appreciate passion.

Make a Good First Impression

A professional conducts themselves at a high character level consistently. Sharp looking, organized teams get noticed, which makes the need to act your best even more important. Maintain an even keel during the heat of racing. Communicate with others through social media, in person, or other means, as if the spotlight was always on. This includes when giving our opinion with race officials and promoters. Don’t forget having your attire leave no doubt who you race for while on the podium.

Add Value to Your Team

A well run team has a lot of moving pieces. Those pieces working in concert are what make an organization better than the sum of its parts. Try to look for ways to help, even if it’s just to offer your assistance. Most athletes have an expertise in some area(s), even if it’s just time, that can benefit everyone. Few good things happen by chance, but through effort by someone that cared.

Support Your Team Mates

One quality of a good team is people want to be a part of it. This usually isn’t the clothes they get, bikes they ride or deals offered. It comes down to feeling part of something where they are supported. Giving assistance, passing on knowledge, watching a fellow team mate and cheering them on are part of this support. It’s always best to feel we can share our triumphs and tragedies.

It’s a privilege to be on any well run team, but especially ours. Show that appreciation by projecting a professional image and sportsmanship. Represent yourself, your team, and the sport of cycling well.


One of the best days of the year…

March 15th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

As a cyclist in Michigan, there are some monumental days on the calendar:

  1. Yankee Springs Time Trial – the opening of the MTB race season
  2. Barry-Roubaix – the largest and one of the most popular gravel road races in MI
  3. Race for the wishes – the road race that often serves as our state championship
  4. Alma GP of CX – the kick-off for cyclocrossers
  5. Iceman Cometh – the point-to-point MTB race that draws thousands of participants and a stacked pro field to Traverse City

Then there’s the day that every cyclist on a team looks forward to as much (or more) than these monuments of the Michigan cycling calendar . . . new kit arrival day! That’s right – the day that our new lycra arrives is one of the highlights of the year. This is especially true when your new kit is from Giordana.

I am anything but a professional racer, but as someone who logs between 7,000 – 8,000 miles on his bike each year, I most definitely have an appreciation for the equipment that makes my riding more comfortable and enjoyable.

Since joining Athletic Mentors cycling team, I have had the opportunity to wear Giordana gear. I anticipated the change from another brand to be difficult, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality, comfort, durability and aesthetic of our Giordana kit. When we head outside in the chilly morning in the Spring, the lined Roubaix line of bibs, jerseys and arm warmers are just right to keep me focused on my miles and not the air temperature. When the long rides of a hot summer afternoon hit, I have come to appreciate the breathability of the Scatto jerseys that allow enough ventilation to keep me feeling cool. Regardless of the weather, I most appreciate the comfort and quality of the chamois. I know, no one likes to talk about those parts, but if you are going to log serious miles, this becomes a critical contact point between cyclist and bike. I have been amazed not just at the comfort of the chamois, but the durability. With other brands, this critical component of the kit had a definite shelf life. I have yet to experience that with my Giordana chamois.

Finally, the aesthetic of the kit looks great. Whether I find myself logging some solo miles, riding in the peloton or on the those rare occasions I get to stand on a podium, I look forward to wearing my team colors in my Giordana kit. And I always look forward to new kit arrival day each spring . . .


Steps to Getting Better Sleep

February 1st, 2018 by Marie Dershem

In today’s culture, poor sleep is worn almost like a badge of honor. If you are a high achiever, whether in your job, with your family, or just trying to live a full life, sleep often takes a back seat to our attention. It’s the place often sacrificed to find more time in the day. However, science is showing time and again that better sleep is imperative to good health. Many don’t know that simple changes to the daily task of getting to sleep can help them feel more rested and ready to take on their day, and aid their long term health. Here are some steps to take for more effective rest.

Establish a Sleep Schedule

Many daily biological patterns are based off the body’s circadian rhythm. This system is cued into light and other waking stimuli, and best responds to a pattern of regularity. Set aside 7.5-8.5 hours to sleep each night. Try to retire at the same time, rising around the same time each morning. Weekends should replicate the weekly waking and sleeping times as well, where possible. Avoid long naps (greater than 30 mins) in the day as these impact the ability to fall asleep at a normal time.

Adjust Your Surroundings

The place one sleeps should be inviting. For many, this means some place cool, dark, and calm. Others benefit from a fan or other device to give a consistent, gentle background sound. Minimizing stimulating your senses through blocking out sounds, light, or other things that will prevent relaxation. This includes not using television, phones, computers, or radio when trying to fall asleep.

Prepare the Body

It is common to try to work or be active right up till it’s time to go to bed. However, this keeps the body on alert. Hormones are released to tell us when to rise, prepare us for proper function, and give appropriate arousal to best perform in our day.

These aspects of the “biological clock” are influenced by outside cues, like light, sound and other stimuli. It’s best to allow the body time to adjust away from this alert state. As the evening hours begin, dim or shut off lights within the house. If spending time on the computer shortly before bed, consider installing a program that removes blue light to lower stimulation. Do some relaxing activity before sleeping, like reading a book or taking a bath. Not only should work be avoided as you’re approaching bedtime, but also exercise or other activities that keep the body charged up.

Though going to bed hungry doesn’t promote quality sleep, neither does stuffing oneself. Be careful how much you consume leading up to the hours before bed.Also note that excessive fluids will likely cause the need to hit the bathroom at some point in your slumber. Caffeine, alcohol, some herbs, and nicotine can be stimulants that hinder a quick fall into a useful sleep cycle. These can take hours to get out of the system, so pay attention to when to stop ingesting them. Alcohol especially can make the sleep one gets poorer then it should as well.


A Thousand Invisible Mornings

January 13th, 2018 by Marie Dershem

This time of year, I often need a little inspiration to keep up (or start up) my training.

In the fall, the weather and beauty draws me outside to ride the lovely Michigan countryside.

In the spring, I am so eager to get back on my bike outside, I can hardly wait for clear roads and warmer temps.

In the summer, the sun and warmth, group rides and racing provide daily motivation to ride hard and long.

But, this time of year… especially those windy, gray days when there isn’t enough snow to get out and enjoy, the trainer becomes the best option.

Morning after morning after morning on the trainer can suck the motivation right out of you. With ever-improving technology making trainer rides more enjoyable, even the hardcore Zwifters have to long for a breath of fresh air.

A few days ago, my college roommate and rowing teammate sent me a photo that spoke to that deep motivation… that drive to use these cold months of indoor training to become the best athlete I can be. It is perfect. I hope it helps you get through until Michigan welcomes us back outside!


Detroit Cycling Championship Team Recap

September 16th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Terry Ritter

September 9th saw big time bicycle racing return to the Detroit area. The Detroit Athletic Club put on the inaugural Detroit Cycling Championship. This event had a large purse ($45K!), and drew both amateur and pro teams from around the Midwest region and our friends to the east, Canada.

The course was interesting as well, though rather challenging. Three of the main roads used ran the perimeter of Comerica Park, where the Tigers play Major League baseball. Between corners #2 and #3 was a pretty good downhill that generated speeds in excess of 30 mph. From here there was a short section between turns #4 and #5, then #5 and #6, and back onto the long, slight uphill straight. And, being inner streets of a major city, the patched pavement and utility covers were plentiful, with the worst examples of the former on the course’s fast decent. Add a quality prize list and the accomplished riders that show for such a draw, and you’ve got a technical race that was fast and strung out from the gun. Having frequent primes only ramped things up more.  Moving up and maintaining position was a challenge, especially since the opportunity to transit through the field of riders was muted by the speed, and dive-bombing corners was a common occurrence.

The ample purse meant a lot of new riders, and opportunities to have different race classes combined compared to the normal Michigan scene. This meant not only grouped category 3s and 4s races, but category 2s and 3s as well. There was also a full masters class. Ultimately, this left the racers on Team Athletic Mentors the opportunity to not only get a couple of events in, but to race with each other when we normally don’t get that chance.

Toeing the line in the combined Cat. 2/3 race was Terry Ritter, Rich Landgraff, Luke Cavender, Collin Snyder, Ross Williams, and Bobby Munro. Like all the races, this one was fast. Collin won a prime early on, then took a flyer to try to get away with three laps to go. However, there was too much horsepower for anything but a sprint finish.

Ross and Bobby were active in their Cat. 3 only race, with Ross attacking for a prime and then Bobby countering the next lap to try to get away. Great to see some tactical racing from our up-and-coming racers.

The Masters race was all three categories (35+, 45+, 55+), and it made for a large field but interesting dynamic. It wasn’t slow by any means (the 35+ group assured that), and there was a national champion kit in the mix as well. Richard, Peter O’Brien, and Terry doubled up (Peter was in the Cat. 3 Masters race earlier), with Jonathan Morgan joining the crew.

Elaine was our sole female Team Athletic Mentor rider and competed in the Cat. 3/4 race, as well as the Cat. P/1/2/3 race. Like the other races, the group was rarely grouped together, and the later race was especially fast. There were a few teams that were recognizable from the National Criterium Championship race earlier in the summer.  With this being Elaine’s first year of serious road racing (not to mention criteriums), she did very well and represented the team impressively.

The final event of the day was the Pro/1/2, slated for 80 mins. A lot of big regional teams were there and it was super fast. Dan Yankus, Collin, Peter Ehmann and Jonathan started. Many riders didn’t finish due to the pace. Eventually, a group of 5 got away, including two Bissell Pro riders, that lapped the field. Then, with about 10 laps to go, there was a crash that left a few riders in need of medical attention and the race was halted, only to restart after the break with a fast conclusion. With a $200 prime on the second to last lap, the pace was high…until the group passed the first corner as the last lap bell was ringing. Bissell slowed a bit around corner #2, with Daniel taking advantage and shooting up near the front on the outside. Unfortunately, a number of riders dive bombed the inside corner, pushing Daniel and the Bissell train towards the outside and into the barriers, causing a crash. Fortunately, no one was hurt too badly and the race finished on that lap. Collin came home with 30th on the evening.

Not getting enough racing for the weekend, Bobby, Daniel, Collin, Terry and Ross headed to Uncle John’s 56 mile gravel race north of Lansing on Sunday. Glen Dik joined the mix. The team was active early, with Daniel finishing fourth out of the small break that got away from the rest of the field. Collin got 6th overall and Terry came in 13th, and 3rd in the 47-51 age group. Elaine and JoAnn Cranson competed in the women’s 24 mile race as well.

There are rumors that next season the Detroit Criterium Championship will be earlier in the season and hopefully on the national cycling calendar. With the positive support and great organization of this year’s inaugural event, there’s little doubt this can grow bigger and better, showcasing the renewal of our great city.


Comebacks, Low-Carb, and that Little Race Up North

August 28th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Terry Ritter

Back on May 13th of this year, during the first lap of the inaugural Port City Criterium, I took off after a break and rolled my tire in the fast downhill corner. I was able to scrub off some speed but this tumble at 30 mph left me with a hairline fracture in my left scapula and a right one in four pieces. For good measure, I also compressed three vertebrae and broke two ribs. Though not needing surgery was a good outcome, I was worried right away that I might not be ready for my favorite mountain bike race, Ore to Shore. I’ve faithfully competed in 17 of the 19 editions.

My shoulders have been deteriorating for years and I have been less than optimal on keeping up on the exercises needed so they stay MTB functional. That meant in the 2016 O2S my shoulders got the best of me and I completely came apart with ten miles to go, getting dropped from my group in a new single track section. I feared the same thing for this season. However, I was diligent with my recovery and physical therapy, pushed myself to get back on the bike and race as soon as I could (week 6 post crash), and hoped for the best.

One thing that didn’t need more confirmation was how switching to a lower carbohydrate diet had left me less need to consume nutrients during an event or ride. Two winters ago I did an experiment with Cricket and Mark of Athletic Mentors, doing metabolic testing (VO2 Max and Aerobic Threshold) work to see how doing a ketogenic diet (very low-carb) would impact my cycling. More specifically, I wondered how it would increase my fat burning, which it improved greatly. However, at least in the 4 month experiment we used, I lost a significant enough ability to do work anaerobically (short term power) that I had to bring some sugars back into my diet to be effective with a number plate on my bike.

What else was it like being a ketogenic athlete (also called “fat adapted”)? Well, our bodies burn glucose if it’s in our diet significantly, and that’s the case for most. For this reason, the brain and nerves are committed to using glucose. When it’s too low, we bonk. But, the hallmark of a ketogenic adaptation is to give the brain and nerves another fuel, one the muscles and other organs happily burn as well: ketone bodies. And the liver can make these all day from our own fat stores. This allowed me, at least for those 4 months, to totally disconnect my eating and working out. I did 1800-2000 kcal workouts and hadn’t eaten in 6-8 hours, something I could never have dreamed of in my past high carb. life.

When I did reintroduce carbs. during the race season,  I cut them back significantly from the “aerobic athletes needs carbs. for fuel” mantra I’d heard for decades. And, my power came back. However, I also noticed a significant reduction in what I needed to take in to race well during an event. My daily dietary carbs. through the season typically run 200g or less, depending on training days, many days 100 or less.

How does this math workout in a race? A calorie is just another unit of work, so a power meter, which measures kilojoules very accurately, can determine this value within a few percentage points. The 91 mile Cherry Roubaix took about 3100 kcals to complete. I did have a reasonable breakfast, but only had to take about 600 kcals in during the ride. The Ore to Shore was likely in the 2500 kcal range for work, but I only consumed about 400 kcals during the event…and didn’t finish either effort with any signs of hunger.

The net result is I have learned I don’t need to consume what now looks to be ridiculous levels of carbohydrates to able to perform well. Going this route has enhanced my fat burning ability, meaning I can use my own body stores, a good thing for other reasons besides athletic performance. And, though this is an entirely different topic, I believe it’s much healthier to consume fewer carbs., likely as little as we can. So, this bodes well with where I want my health to go.

The futile attempt to remove the special “mud” that exists at times in the Marquette area. We had some pretty substantial water on the course this year, creating rust colored puddles filled with iron particles. I have to give it a try, though, and now this kit will serve as attire for all O2S races in the near future.

Oh, and how’d the Ore to Shore end up? Well, I was just hoping to get to that place 10 miles before the finish still able to race the race. Darn if all that physical therapy didn’t do the trick and I was able to hang with the top 3 guys (and gal, as the lead women raced with us) as they attacked our group of 15 and made a separation. I was able to push all the way to the finish. This was good enough to squeak in 54th overall. Now, all I have to do is find the motivation to keep these shoulders stronger without rolling around on the pavement as motivation.

 


An object at rest stays at rest . . .

July 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Aric Dershem

Newton’s 1st Law of Physics: An object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

sunrise

My brain is in shock as I try to determine where the noise is coming from. It takes me a few seconds to gain just enough consciousness to reach over to the bedside table and fumble around, eyes still closed, searching for the off button on the alarm clock. When I finally muster enough dexterity to flick the off button, I begrudgingly pull off the covers and swing my legs over the bed. My feet hit the hardwood floor with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. I look at my watch. 4:46 am. Even though I’m only in a semi-conscious state, I need to make a choice right now. Stand up and get moving or fall back into the warmth of my bed and the comfort of my pillow. The latter sounds so inviting at this time in the morning, but there’s a small part of me that knows that this is my only chance. This is going to take the force of my will to get moving. If I’m going to ride today, I have to ride now.

aric lights

Over the next several minutes I slowly emerge from my grogginess into a state of complete consciousness. It’s chilly outside – chillier than it should be for early June. I have a hard workout on my training plan for today. I find myself having an all too familiar conversation in my head – What am I doing? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Some days, this whole “cycling thing” feels more like a job.

It’s 5:20. I ratchet my shoes tight and pull on my helmet and glasses. As I step out the door, am smacked in the face by the cool early morning air. I dread the chill that seems to go right through me when I start riding, but I’m committed at this point. I check my setup – rear flashers are on, one solid front light and one flashing front light. The Garmin has satellite connection and the power meter is calibrated. I swing my leg over the bar and hear the familiar sound of my cleats clipping into my pedals. One press of the start/stop button and my Garmin is capturing every bit of data about my the ride I am about to take. With a few standing pedal strokes, I’m down the driveway and out onto the road.

Even in these pre-dawn hours it takes about 20 minutes to get out of town. I have the roads mostly to myself. There’s an occasional car, but I’m more likely to see rabbits, racoon or deer. Nearly every stoplight I hit is flashing. I’m able to roll-up and (usually) roll through. The sleep is out of my system by now and I’m enjoying the feeling of acceleration when stand-up on my pedals. I feel the almost metronomic rhythm of my pedals as my wheels roll resolutely over the pavement – I focus on smoothing out my pedal strokes. Occasionally I look down at my Garmin to check on my progress, but mostly I take in the familiar landmarks as I slice my way through the city.

aric morning1Now that I’m riding the chill in the air no longer bothers me, instead the cool air hitting my skin feels refreshing. The thoughts of my warm bed have long left my head. I’m focused on the ride. My legs feel alive (even if they’re a little sore) and the sensation of speed as I focus my energy into my pedals is unlike any other.

Most non-cyclists think I’m crazy for riding on the road (they think it’s too dangerous). Many of my cycling friends think I’m crazy for riding this early in the morning (it is an ungodly hour to be awake). Regardless, these early morning rides have become the staple of my training. Like today, it usually takes a little extra effort to get out the door, but once I’m on the road, there are rewards waiting for me. Sometimes, the reward is just the sense of accomplishment that comes from surviving a hard workout while others are sleeping. Other times, the reward is the opportunity to greet the sunrise and experience the awe of the new day coming over the horizon. Every day I find myself moving relentlessly over the road, I’m rewarded by feeling a little more alive.

I check my watch and see that it’s almost 7:00. The morning traffic is in full flight with commuters rushing to work. I have to double-check behind me before making a left turn and watch for the drivers distracted by their coffee or their phones. By this point, the hardest work is usually behind me. I just feel the exhilaration of accelerating from intersection to intersection. I know that the ride is over soon – time to finish strong. I almost never hit the final intersection on a green light. This is a good place to call it a ride. I hit the “Start/Stop” button on my Garmin again. Just a short easy pedal home and I’m there.

As I roll up the driveway and see my family scurrying around the house as they being their morning routine. I pull up to the back door and unclip from my pedals. I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m 35-miles into my day and ready to face whatever comes. That feeling of forward motion carries me into my day – I feel like there’s no stopping me . Now I just need to remember that feeling tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off . . .

aric sunrise 2

 

 


Eyes in the Back of Your Head  

November 1st, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Aric Dershem, Team OAM NOW Cyclist

As road cyclists, we love the feeling of the wind in our face (and even better, the wind at our back). We love the way the road rolls below us as our feet push and pull the pedals. We love seeing the countryside pan by us as we cover mile after mile under our own power. We love the sound of a quiet drive train propelling us forward. We love all these things about road biking and so many more. We find it difficult to imagine why anyone would not love road cycling and hard to explain why we love it so much.

Unfortunately, we have all heard stories about close calls or experienced firsthand confrontations between motorists and cyclists. This year seems worse than ever with far too many of these confrontations ending tragically.

We love to be on the road, but we must also recognize that a real element of risk exists every time we roll down our driveway and into the street. There are some things that research is telling us that we can do to dramatically improve our safety on the road. A recent study sponsored by a major bicycle manufacturer found that there are three primary actions we can take as cyclists to protect ourselves. They use the mnemonic, A+B+C to help us remember these.

A)    Always on lighting – 80% of bike accidents happen during daylight. Having lights on even during daylight hours attracts the attention of motorists and helps us stand out.

B)    Biomotion – When we highlight the motion of our bodies using reflectors, this makes us more recognizable as humans to drivers who might be otherwise distracted.

C)    Contrast – High visibility and reflective gear helps us stand out day or night.

Even before this recent study came out, I made the commitment to run lights every time I take the road. I am one of those cyclists who usually rides alone and most often early in the morning (before sunrise). For me, riding with lights is essential both for me to see and be seen. One morning as I waited at an intersections at 6 am, a woman pulled up next to me and rolled down her window. I was naturally expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised by the interaction. She leaned over to the passenger side window and said, “I could see your lights a half-mile up the road. Thank you for being so visible.” Interactions like this only confirm the value of being visible to motorists. Now, I never hit the road, day or night, without lights.aric lights

I personally recommend the Bontrager Ion 800R headlight and Flare R rear light. Both are small, compact, come with a versatile (and interchangeable mount) and are rechargeable using a standard microUSB cable (included). These lights can be purchased at great trek dealers like Speedmerchants Bike Shop. While you can often find less expensive light, the 800 lumen front light provides a strong enough beam to ride at night while the Flare R is bright enough to be highly visible even in full daylight. The only problem with the Flare R is that on its high setting, some people may not want to ride behind you because it’s so bright.

marie lights

In addition to making ourselves visible, there are other relatively new technologies that we can use us safe. RoadID, maker of the prolific ID bracelets, offers a free app for your mobile phone that will text a link to anyone you designate when you leave for a ride. The link takes the recipient to a map showing where you are on your ride and will automatically notify them if you stop moving for more then 5-minutes without turning the app off. My wife and I use this constantly to make sure that we can be notified if something happens to either of us while out on the road.

Perhaps my favorite piece of safety technology is my Garmin Varia rearview. I received this as a gift ast year for Christmas and had no idea how valuable this would be. The Varia is a rear light with multiple flashing modes. While it is not as bright as the Flare R, it is still part of my everyday setup because the Varia rearview essentially give me eyes in the back of my head. That’s right, the Varia is rear-facing radar that alerts my Garmin head unit when a vehicle (or vehicles) are approaching me from behind. This allows me to keep my focus on the road ahead of me while still being aware of what is coming from behind me. I have found this to be especially useful when I’m riding on busy roads with high traffic speeds or roads with especially narrow shoulders. Having used this technology for the past year, I have to say that on those rare occasions when I don’t ride with my Varia, I miss it. The ability to know when traffic is approaching allows me to ride defensively without constantly looking behind me to see if anything is coming. It makes my rides both safer and more enjoyable.

garmin lights

At the end of the day, 99.9% of us ride for the fun it offers us and the challenge it presents to us. Like any activity, it comes with some inherent risks, but we can take some deliberate steps to reduce that risk. Over the past year, I have become increasingly aware of my role in staying safe on the road and I’m grateful for technology that allows me to be more visible to the drivers I’m sharing the road with and have eyes in the back of my head. Let’s all do our part to make the road safe for everyone so we can all enjoy the benefits of the road together.



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